Forging a Pacific Future

Posted by John Kerry
October 18, 2013
Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Froman Speak to the Press at the APEC Ministerial in Indonesia

After three trips to Asia as secretary of State, I am more convinced than ever that, as a Pacific power, the United States must continue to forge a Pacific future. But building that future means confronting challenges that require cooperation with our allies and perseverance with our adversaries.

Some of those challenges are related directly to our national security. We must work with Japan, South Korea and others to address the threat posed by a nuclear-armed North Korea and the growing dangers of cyber espionage. We must cooperate with countries across the Asia-Pacific region to peacefully resolve rising territorial differences in the South China Sea. And we need to develop trade relationships that open these robust economies to more American goods and services.

At a time when some Americans would like to pull back from engagement abroad, it's never been more important to work together globally to meet an array of challenges.

Unfortunately, I left for Asia earlier this month under the shadow of the government shutdown here at home. The transient difficulties in Washington, and the fact that those polarizing politics kept President Obama at home, did not diminish the recognition among the leaders with whom I spoke that the United States has a vital role to play in supporting peace and prosperity across the region.

Indeed, over the course of two weeks and four countries, I saw firsthand the depth of U.S. engagement, starting with enhancing the security architecture that we established decades ago and concluding with progress on an economic partnership that will yield lasting benefits for American workers in the decades to come.

Still, there are obstacles. One of them is finding the diplomatic means to persuade North Korea to live up to international norms. As part of solving that vexing riddle, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and I signed a historic agreement with our counterparts in Japan on Oct. 3 that strengthens our deep alliance. It commits the two countries to working together to confront the threat posed by North Korea, as well as emerging dangers such as maritime security and cyber espionage.

Another challenge is keeping the region's sea lanes secure for freedom of commerce and navigation. A few days after signing the security pact with Japan, the United States joined more than a dozen allies at the Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei to present a united front in developing a clear code of conduct to prevent miscommunication and miscalculation at a time of rising tensions in the South China Sea and other vital waterways.

Stability and prosperity require more than security. A shared commitment to economic growth and innovation is part of why the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is a cornerstone of the president's economic policy in Asia. This partnership will drive growth and create jobs across the Asia-Pacific region and the United States.

In Bali, Indonesia, we made real progress on reaching agreement among a dozen countries representing 40% of the world's economy. Over several days of high-level talks, we narrowed differences and reaffirmed the objective of concluding negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership by the end of the year.

There are still issues to be resolved, but moving forward is essential. This free-trade agreement will support American jobs and investments by expanding access to markets for goods and services in a region of robust economic growth, setting high labor and environmental standards and protecting intellectual property rights.

The region is poised for economic growth, but that growth must be smart and sustainable. As the planet's biggest consumers of energy and emitters of greenhouse gases, the nations of the region — including our own — have an enormous responsibility to lead a transformation that puts us on a path toward sustainability.

There are positive signs in that regard. At a port in Indonesia, I met fishermen who are working with researchers in the United States to build sustainable fisheries. Putting climate and clean energy issues at the top of our agenda has led to real breakthroughs. Singapore is the latest nation to join the U.S.-Asia Pacific Comprehensive Energy Partnership, where we are helping to bring clean energy to many of the 387 million people in Asia without power.

We are also opening a regional center for Asia-Pacific Clean Energy in Bangkok, Thailand, to create opportunities for American companies and to facilitate investment in this vital sector.

Sensitive regional issues remain, including the substantial challenges that some of the countries face in protecting human rights. But working through our differences openly and candidly, and signaling our continuing commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, brings our goals within reach.

The rebalancing of our foreign policy priorities in Asia is neither a work completed nor an effort interrupted. It is a daily march of progress to be measured in miles and years, not yards and days. But the march is underway, and America and Asia are stronger because of it.

About the Author: John Kerry serves as the 68th U.S. Secretary of State.

Editor's Note: This entry originally appeared as an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times.




jorge g.
October 21, 2013
in order to rebalance your foreing policies in asia usa ,maybe it should include the vision toghether with the TPP the current commerce vision of latin America with the pacific rim .maybe with America as a parter in commerce with asia singapure japan korea etc. will better work to make an alliece not just economicly but 'STRATEGICALY' (balancing impots and exports) to creat jobs in reciprocity to commerce to all participants.THIS WILL BRING MORE SECURITY TO ALL.
Bruce C.
California, USA
October 23, 2013
This whole proclamation is a bit of fraud. It's pretty obvious to the rest of the world that the US is pursuing a policy of provoking a needless confrontation with China, which has been paying our government's bills and otherwise bending over backwards to accommodate us. Who in his right mind thinks that North Korea is a threat to the U.S.? It's just an excuse to irritate China. China is pursuing the sort of intelligent policy that the U.S. was once famous for: pursuing technological progress, building infrastructure, expanding its space program and developing the cognitive powers of its population. Meanwhile, the US is shutting down its industry, bailing out gangster speculators on Wall Street, cutting all social services to the poor, and encouraging its citizens to wallow in mindless entertainment. Instead of trying to suppress China and its neighbors (by trying to impose British-style "free trade" economic policies and the bogus argument of concern over climate change,) the US should return to the policies that made us a world leader from the time of FDR until the assassination of JFK.
Eric J.
New Mexico, USA
October 23, 2013
Maybe Sec. Hagel and Sec. Kerry can square the conundrum of this riddle....(in the context of sequester, defecit, and the occasional government shutdown and/or risk by political stupidity of default,as a nation...); Here are two "givens"...(or as I see them simple statements of fact). North Korea wouldn't have a nuclear program if China hadn't supported the North Korean leadership for the past several decades. Secretary Hagel can have a DoD cost analysis of everything it has cost the American taxpayer to keep the peace on the Korean peninsula since the fighting stopped way back in the 1950's. As a citizen, subject to the whims of Congressional debate , it perplexes me no end as to why this nation must service any debt to China. All the while the Chinese take issue with the US having a larger presence in the region? OK fine...China helps create a loony-toon regime that has gone so far off the farm...or China's "leash" as it were- that the young-Un would actually threaten to nuke the good 'ol USA? And how many trillions have been invested in keeping the peace in the region over the years? So help me square this paradox that we find ourselves in debt to any nation that creates an expensive security challenge to the United States? I don't suppose our solution to resolving the national debt would be to hire different different government accountants would it? It's like this folks....Russia arms Assad while he creates a humanitarian crisis that we feel compelled to put billions towards resolving...When does Mr. Kerry present Mr. Lavrov with a bill from the US gov. on behalf of the US taxpayer looking for "accountability"??? Thank you, hope this perspective leads to multifaceted thoughtful response. EJ
Eric J.
New Mexico, USA
October 25, 2013


{Bruce C. |California, USA .October 23, 2013
"This whole proclamation is a bit of fraud. It's pretty obvious to the rest of the world that the US is pursuing a policy of provoking a needless confrontation with China, which has been paying our government's bills and otherwise bending over backwards to accommodate us. Who in his right mind thinks that North Korea is a threat to the U.S.? It's just an excuse to irritate China."]

 Well last I checked, apparently the Young-Un thinks North Korea is a threat to the US, and I suppose it wouldn't hurt to remind folks that unlike tango, it only takes one mad dictator to start a war.

 I can't speak for the intent of US policy...I'm not a diplomat.

 Though I highly doubt that it's as you opine.

  Even the government of China has to realize at this point that in supporting the North Korean tyrany, not only have millions died in North Korea over the years...gulags, forced labor..., its policy that has allowed this regime to thrive at the expense of its citizens over the decades has provoked a confrontation by proxi with its neigbors, as well as with the US by arming the regime to the teeth with the fourth largest standing army on the planet.

 The whole long standing impass over Taiwan,....

 Policies of a bygone era of a China that has moved on in so many ways, but remains stuck in a dysfunctional continuation of a political mindset that shoots itself in its own foot....

 Like they're ever going to succeed in achieving a "One China" policy in practicality on the ground by lobbing missiles over the strait's time to disarm that entire notion of some kind of forced resolution to that question.

  Even the most incompetent Chinese economist would realize that the effects of North Korea starting a shooting war would wreck absolute and permanent havoc on the Chinese well as other's.

  I call North Korea's government a "frankenstein" regime, because in the end it will turn upon its creator in one way or another and cause China to "lose face" as well as a lot more that's of national interest.

 In the meantime, do you have any idea what it costs to float a carrier battle group to make sure that there is visable deterent to a dictator's hostile threats, and periodic bouts of political insanity are not replied to in kind?

 The whole concept of "third party intervention" applies to our presence in the region, from a military keep the peace and sea lanes open.

 Maybe you can tell me why China would risk everything it's trying to achieve and build by supporting the North Korean regime's continued existance?




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